An opportunity to reflect on manual drilling – UNESCO Seminar in Madrid, 2019

It was 21 years ago that I was first confronted with manual drilling.  I had just started my PhD research at Cranfield University.  The idea was to develop a human operated rig that could break through harder (laterite) formation, test it in an African country, and have it adopted by the private sector… in three years.  Back then I could never have imagined that in 2019 (and in my mid-40’s), that I would join ten others for a seminar hosted in Madrid, Spain on the role of manual drilling to reach universal water access.

Looking back, the goals of the project were unrealistic, but we did not know that at the time, and research provides space for considerable learning. Oh, and by the way, digital cameras were very new on the market in 1998.  My colleague had one, which produced recognisable, but quite grainy images.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) Knowledge and Research (KAR) funded research project, “Low Cost Drilling” took me to Uganda, and three years of field work in collaboration with the (now) Ministry of Water and Environment and district local governments in Mukono and Mpigi. Following initial trials in a field in the UK, UNICEF and the government enabled use of the rig to provide drinking water supplies within their joint drinking water programme (called WES).

We proved that the new technology (which we called the Pounder Rig) could work, but embedding it in Uganda proved to be beyond us within the three-year period. In the meantime, I had gone from standing in a hotel lobby to make calls to landlines and leaving messages for people who were not there, to having my first mobile phone. My photographs remained analogue; a digital camera being well out of financial reach at the time.

The PhD research process taught me so much, but let me try to stay close to the topic of manual drilling. The subject of innovation diffusion was opened up, and I came to learn that the successful adoption of any technology is brought about by much more than technical aspects (my PhD thesis provides insights into this in case you wish to be one of the very few people to read it).

Over the subsequent years, I was extremely fortunate to have the chance to keep on returning to the subject of manual drilling. The collaboration with UNICEF to follow-up their efforts to support manual drilling professionalization in several countries was a welcome opportunity, leading to not only the 2015 manual drilling compendium, but also more in-depth documentation of the status quo in Nigeria and Chad. In short, we documented that by 2015 manual drilling technologies had provided drinking water sources in at least 36 countries.

Manual Drilling

There are quite a few organisations introducing manual drilling technology, including private enterprises developing new markets; local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with overseas funding; governments relying on foreign/local expertise as well as foreign companies and NGOs (including several faith-based organisations).

However, as I started to learn while in Uganda some 20 years ago, the diffusion of innovation has different phases.  Broadly speaking, there is the introduction phase, the uptake phase (also known as the valley of death, given that many technologies are not taken up), and the established phase. Mobile phones combined with digital cameras (aka SMART phones), that can enable you to make calls and take high resolution photographs are in the established phase.

Innovation Uptake (003)

Dr Pedro Martinez-Santos, the new UNESCO Chair in “Appropriate Technologies for Human Development” at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid chose the role of manual drilling technologies towards universal water access as the topic for the first seminar of the chair in April 2019.  I was privileged to be among the eleven people who attended the event. I thus had the opportunity to listen to, and learn from professionals talking of specific experiences in Nigeria, Senegal, the Demographic of Congo, Zambia and Guinea Bissau as well as more widely. It was also a chance to present my own experiences and reflections, and engage in open and fee dialogue.

Returning, after two decades, to an academic environment and reflecting on a topic that has engaged me ever since, is something that may only happen once in a lifetime! There is much that I could say about manual drilling, and even more to learn about, but I close this blog with three short messages:

  • Manual drilling is fully established in some countries and less so in others. Globally, a suite of technologies, when used in the right locations and with professional construction methods, can provide drinking water of good quality. Manual drilling undoubtedly has a significant role to play in reaching the Sustainable Development Goal Targets for Drinking Water, especially in remote areas, but also in rapidly growing urban centres where piped supplies are failing to provide reliable services.
  • Manual drilling is not just about technology but also: the businesses that invest; the drillers (male and female) that need be able to work professionally; the data that can be collected; and the question of whether some people are left behind while others tap the water from their back yards. And there is the regulation (alongside other innovations) needed ensure that the sources are, and remain safe to drink, tapping sustainable groundwater resources.
  • I close by urging not only governments, but also development partners to consider manual drilling, and manual drillers in policies, legislation, investments and capacity strengthening efforts rather than leaving it on the margins. As we experienced in Madrid in April, engage in real dialogue and listening with the different actors involved. The rewards may even be beyond your expectations!

You can download all the presentations from the Madrid seminar from here.

RWSN has collated information on manual drilling technologies and associated wider issues here.

Technovation Rush: Are developing countries ready?

by Takudzwa Noel Mushamba, WASH & Infrastructure Coordinator at Danish Refugee Council / Dansk Flygtningehjælp

re-posted from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/technovation-rush-developing-countries-ready-takudzwa-noel-mushamba/

Failure of technological innovation in the water and sanitation sector.
Across the globe there is growing momentum to address emerging and traditional threats to the water and sanitation sector through innovative technology. As a result, without thinking twice governments and practitioners have jumped on to the technology bandwagon. In the last decade there have been massive investments in technological innovation in the sector in developing countries. Furthermore, there are numerous articles that narrate how technology can help advance the water and sanitation sector in the developing world. There is no doubt there are some benefits emanating from the use of technology be it ICT or new technology introduced to operate and or manage water and sanitation systems. Regardless, the question is to what extent is the technology in question effective and is it introduced at right time?

Continue reading “Technovation Rush: Are developing countries ready?”

Webinar 16.11.2016 / Webinar el día 16.11.2016 – “A tool for Monitoring the Scaling up of Water and Sanitation Technologies”

Texto en español más abajo

From the RWSN secretariat we herewith announce the latest webinar of our mini-series 2016, which will take place on 16.11.2016. The title of the event is “A tool for Monitoring the Scaling up of Water and Sanitation Technologies (TAF – Technology Applicability Framework)” and it will focus on the use of the TAF, which has been presented and discussed previously in this Dgroup. The session will take place in English (2-3 PM Central European Time, please check your local time here) and in Spanish (4-5 PM Central European Time, please check your local time here). We are happy to announce the two presenters and the titles of their presentations:

  • Joshua Briemberg, WaterAid, Nicaragua: TAF as a participative planning and monitoring tool
  • Younes Hassib, GIZ, Germany: Scaling up sanitation solutions in Afghanistan

After the two presentations, you will have the chance to ask questions and participate in the on-line Q&A session and discussion around this topic.

Please use this link in order to register for the sessions.

Recordings and presentations of previous sessions of this mini-series of webinars are available for download and viewing here.

Continue reading “Webinar 16.11.2016 / Webinar el día 16.11.2016 – “A tool for Monitoring the Scaling up of Water and Sanitation Technologies””

Location Matters: A Small Tweak Brings Clean Water Innovations to 5 Million People

by Maura O’Neill,  Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Counselor to the Administrator, USAID

(first appeared: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maura-o/location-matters-a-small-_b_3333535.html)

From the hills of western Kenya to the coastlines of Haiti, blue bins are popping up unexpectedly across local landscapes. These unassuming plastic containers positioned near communal water sources and propped on stands built from local materials, don’t exactly seem like life-saving innovations–but ask the half million people who use them daily, and they will tell you otherwise.

These modest-looking systems are the water purifying Chlorine Dispensers developed by Connecticut-based NGO Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). These systems are designed to bring clean water to beneficiaries like Martin Ouma, the Head Teacher at Busidibu Primary School in Kenya, and his students. Martin tells a common story that is echoed among the communities whose lives are transformed by Chlorine Dispensers: “The dispenser has reduced diarrhea in schools. Standards have gone up, and diseases related to drinking water have been minimized.”

Continue reading “Location Matters: A Small Tweak Brings Clean Water Innovations to 5 Million People”

WASHTech at the IRC symposium in Addis Ababa

WASHTech presentation at Monitoring Symposium

WASHTech, THE project (2011-2013)

With two presentations and a pre-launch side event, WASHTech was well represented at the IRC Monitoring Sustainable WASH Service Delivery symposium. The symposium and side events took place from 9-12 April 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Introducing the TAF

André Olschewski (Skat) and Benedict Tuffuor (TREND Ghana) gave a general introduction to the Technology Applicability Framework (TAF) in a special session on the enabling environment. The session included a presentation on another tool, the Sustainability Monitoring Framework developed by the Dutch WASH Alliance.

Both presentations prompted a discussion about the number and variability of sustainability and how all these tools fit together. The presenters stressed that both tools fit in wider thinking around sustainability in the sector. Even though the tools are being developed in parallel, they both attempt to simplify the analysis of complex, variable data.

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Defender or Prius? When it comes to WASH technologies, are we asking the wrong questions?

The Rope Pump - the Land Rover of rural water supply? (Photo: RWSN/Skat)
The Rope Pump – the Land Rover of rural water supply? (Photo: RWSN/Skat)

In her latest blog post “What’s wrong with a free car?”, Susan Davis of Improve International argues that giving away cars for free would not solve mobility problems for those on low incomes and that likewise, with WASH projects, giving away a capital asset does not help a ‘beneficiary’ if it leaves them with crippling running costs that they can’t afford. In planning WASH services we need to consider lifecycle costs.

There are also parallels in terms of technology choice: do you buy an old Land Rover, which will be unreliable but many things can be fixed by the owner (My neighbour and I changed a head gasket and a cracked cylinder head on my 20-year-old Defender, and I spent many happy – and unhappy – hours tinkering),  or do you buy a Toyota Prius that will be ultra-efficient and reliable, but when it does break will cost and fortune and needs specialist skills and materials.

What should water users in say, Nicaragua or South Sudan, choose for their pump? Would they be better with a handpump that is precision-manufactured out of the very best materials to make it as reliable as possible, or a Rope Pump or an EMAS pump that can be made cheaply from readily available materials, and can be easily fixed by the user if it goes wrong.

It may seem to perverse to compare the two situations where millions everyday around the world do not have access to safe water, let alone a vehicle. But I found Susan’s comparison a helpful one in explaining the value of a topic like lifecycle costing that at first glance can seem intangible and academic.  In the WASHtech project we, along with our project partners IRC, WaterAid, Cranfield, KNUST and Netwas, have embedded the findings of WASHCost from day one so that the assessment of the applicability of new WASH technologies tries to get the whole picture.

What lifecycle costing does is that it shows us that there are better questions to questions to ask than just “which technology is better”.  Instead:  for any given context, which approach to supplying a water service is the most financially sustainable? What are all the costs involved, not just the CapEx and OpEx? If water users and Government can be provided with that information, in a way that is clear and understandable, then they have a fighting chance of getting a system that works, and continues to work.

Sustainability of solar water pumping in Uganda

Latest news from WASHTech project in Uganda: http://www.rural-water-supply.net/en/projekts/details/56

WASHTech, THE project (2011-2013)

    This video highlights steps of using the Technology Applicability Framework (TAF) to assess the potential solar powered water pumping for domestic supply in Kanungu district of south western Uganda

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    Deuxième test du TAF : les acteurs du secteur eau et assainissement du Burkina passent les technologies d’assainissement : VIP et EcoSan à l’épreuve du TAF

    News from Burkina Faso on the WASHTech project

    WASHTech, THE project (2011-2013)

    En sortie terrain du 05 au 09 septembre  2012, l’équipe du projet WASHTech Burkina font passer les technologies d’assainissement : VIP et EcoSan à l’épreuve du Technology Applicability Framework (TAF).
    L’équipe de recherche a rencontré des partenaires étatiques (Direction Régionale de l’Agriculture et de l’hydraulique du Centre Ouest et l’ONEA), communales ( la commune urbaine de Koudougou)  associatives (action Micro-barrage et agro action), des maçons, des artisans, des bénéficiaires de ces technologies, tous engagés qui dans le développement,  qui  dans la promotion des latrines EcoSan ou VIP.  

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    FLOWing data

    water services that last

    By Patrick Moriarty –

    I mentioned some cool new outputs from IRC’s Ghana programme in my previous post.  These factsheets  present a rich picture of water services and their governance based on a total survey in our three Triple-S  focus districts in Ghana.

    The fact sheets aren’t cool due to their content – which is actually rather depressing.  What is cool is the technology used for the data collection, the way in which the indicators we used were developed, and the impact that the factsheets are having.

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